Claire Richard ′14

Hometown: Dallas, TX
Majors: Business and French

Academic interests: International business

Extracurricular activities: Delta Delta Delta, Rho Lambda Women’s Greek Honors Society, Pi Delta Phi National French Honors Society, Tuesday Fellowship, theGRIND

Tell the story of how you got to Rhodes College.

I still recall with great clarity the anxiety that I experienced in making my decision. I was torn between Rhodes College and a large university, up until the deadline. I sought advice from my parents, teachers, and people I randomly confronted in public. I felt that my future rested solely on selecting the right school. Finally, someone challenged me and reduced my choice, in their words, to being a big fish in a small pond, or a small fish in a big pond. That perspective helped me define what exactly I wanted to take from my college experience. I recognized that Rhodes, by its size, reputation, and its commitment to its students, was the best choice.

How have you changed since beginning your studies at Rhodes College?

Early on, I recognized that the faculty treat you like an adult and maintain high expectations for students. They expect that you are able to meet the challenges presented. They have confidence that even if the challenge is daunting, you are capable of figuring out how to rise to the occasion. Their perceptions and expectations helped me develop the confidence and knowledge that challenges are opportunities for growth and, with commitment and fortitude, they can be overcome.

Looking back, I can confidently say that growing up isn’t easy. Everyone in college grows and everyone in college changes. What most people overlook is the tendency that people have to fall along the way. In this regard, Rhodes has helped shape me by providing wonderful people who I could surround myself with and trust. My time at Rhodes has taught me that you need those people to push you, but you also need at group of trusted friends who will be beside you, telling you that you can do it.

What led you to declare a double major in French and business?

I had the great fortune of traveling and studying in France. Armed with a very little knowledge of the French language and an open mind, it didn’t take long before I became totally enamored with the French culture. My excitement instilled a passion to learn the French language in greater depth. I knew from my first time abroad that I would shape my studies in a manner that would best aid me in obtaining a career that could provide any opportunity to return to the culture that has so inspired me. The decision to specialize in international business was probably the easiest decision I made at Rhodes.

I started with the intention to minor in French. However, when the end of my minor began to approach during my sophomore year, I wasn’t ready to stop learning the language that I had grown to love. At that point I saw a second major within reach and it became an obvious choice.

I am so thankful for the support and encouragement that both departments provide because I am not sure if I could have completed two majors without it.

You interned at FedEx with Rhodes alum Michael Briggs. How did this internship contribute to your learning? Was it rewarding to work with a fellow Rhodes student?

Words cannot describe the appreciation that I have for my internship with FedEx. I had the opportunity to observe the dynamics, the real-life day-to-day activities, at FedEx and observe how important people are to the success of a major corporation. Michael immediately welcomed me and treated me like a peer. He encouraged my participation in all aspects of his department and he consistently and unselfishly shared insights about the corporate nuances that distinguish FedEx. I can’t say if his commitment to my internship was because of our common Rhodes background, but Rhodes can be proud of the support that a former student provides to others. I hope to emulate Michael if I am in the position to help a Rhodes student in the future.

What are your plans for next year? How has Rhodes helped you to get where you’re going?

Rhodes has given me self-confidence and the realization that I am capable of meeting any challenge that I might confront. I have confidence that God will lead me in the right direction and that, with the insights and tools I’ve developed over the past four years, I will get to where I am supposed to be.